Brady Quinn Goes from Quarterback to Game Manager in Cleveland

Samuel IngroAnalyst IDecember 22, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Brady Quinn #10 of the Cleveland Browns passes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 20, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In the age of quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, John Elway, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, and Drew Brees that can all throw the ball a mile, the role of the game managing quarterback has seemingly all but diminished.

However, a few quarterbacks in the league have made a case for the smart, savvy quarterback that while may not always be flashy and put up the numbers, can run an offense and get the job done.

If you don't know what I'm referring to, I'm speaking of passers like Joe Flacco, Kyle Orton, and Cleveland's own Brady Quinn.

It's no coincidence that two of those three passers fall in the AFC North. The hard-nosed notoriously defensive division that has lived and died by the run. All throughout history the teams of, previously named the AFC Central, has featured power backs the likes of Jim Brown, Jamal Lewis, Franco Harris, and Jerome Bettis. These backs have, no pun intended, carried their teams to success with average quarterbacks.

Even in the past decade quarterbacks like Brad Johnson (2003) and Trent Dilfer (2001) have led their teams to Superbowl rings, big names? No, not at all, simply game managers.

The emergence of the Wildcat offense and popularity of the West Coast offense, have teams increasingly looking around for a game managing quarterback, that plays mistake free football.

Currently, 13 of the 32 NFL teams employ a version of the West Coast system, and with Mike Holmgren coming to the shores of Lake Erie, it's very likely soon to be 14.

While many so-called experts and draft analysts are clamoring for Cleveland to take a quarterback in the first round, such as Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen or Oklahoma's Sam Bradford; it would be a rebuild disaster.

Drafting yet another first round quarterback, would set back the rebuild with one less impact player on the roster. Instead of a player like Eric Berry, Ndamukong Suh, Brandon Spikes, or Russell Okung, Cleveland would have yet another first round quarterback's growing pains and development to go through. Another prospect that may, or may not work out in the long run.

Brady Quinn defines all the qualities of a West Coast offense quarterback. He's quick, knowledgeable, a strong leader, and is capable of moving the chains. Recent quotes by Holmgren shows hints that he will be willing to give Quinn another season to prove himself.

Holmgren has been quoted saying that "a quarterback can only be judged after 48 starts."

And also: "They think the world of him, this much I know. If you're kind of juggling two guys, it becomes very hard for both of them and at times hard for the team. I'd have to study and learn so much more about both those young men."

Quinn is now twelve starts into his young career, and for every step forward, he seems to take a step back. While often consistent and accurate, the next game he will look like a different quarterback, putting up numbers that make him look like a high school passer.

If he can prove to Mike Holmgren that he can go out and perform on a consistent basis, he would lock down the position for the first time since Bernie Kosar, and take the pressure off the rebuild.

Holmgren won't ask for much out of the position, but if Quinn can play mistake free football like he has, they will give him all the weapons around him he needs through the 2011 NFL Draft.

Cleveland always has strove for a dominant defense and power running game, but 2011 just may be a very different picture. Not putting the emphasis on the deep routes, and putting it on playmakers like Joshua Cribbs and Jerome Harrison for the possibility of a big break, would make for a different role for the passer position.

For Cleveland to ever be successful, Brady Quinn has to succeed at quarterback.